"The Invisible Wall" on View at the Community Gallery at THEARC

"The Invisible Wall" on View at the Community Gallery at THEARC

Currently, on view in the Community Gallery at THEARC, Susana Raab's photo essay "The Invisible Wall" is a collection of pictures displaying life east of the Anacostia River. The exhibition was recently featured in an article by Phil Hutinet, writer for East of the River Magazine. 

The Invisible Wall Opens Window into Life East of the River [EXCERPT]

Susana Raab’s imagery could not be more insightful.  Many have tried to explain what makes East of the River so unique from the rest of Washington but few have actually been able to successfully explain it up until now.  Raab’s 20 picture essay speaks so eloquently, so simply, capturing so many of the facets that make East of the River such a remarkably distinct place, it is a wonder why an exhibition like this did not come to fruition sooner.

Concurrent with Raab’s The Invisible Wall, the Seventh Annual East of the River Exhibition next door at Honfleur Gallery showcases a plurality of East of the River voices including two fellow documentary photographers, Gabriela Bulisova and Lawrence Green.  While Bulisova focuses her attention on the plight of returned citizens attempting to assimilate back into their East of the River communities and Lawrence Green documents the redefining of African-American beauty by East of the River women,  Raab’s photographic essay examines all aspects of East of the River life.  

So how does this invisible wall disconnect East of the River from the rest of the city and make it so different?  By their very nature, walls divide and separate; people build them to keep some people in and other people out.   For Susana Raab the wall that separates East of the River from the rest of the city is invisible just as class and socioeconomic status are.   

Both native Washingtonians and newcomers alike have an image of what “East of the River” means.   “I began to realize that I had created a lot of what I believed East of the River neighborhoods to be in my own mind” explains Raab.  “So I decided to go behind this wall, some of which exists in reality and some of which I had created in my mind.  My goal was to try to understand what was actually going on.”

In 2010, shortly after completing graduate work in photography, Raab began working at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum and began taking pictures of neighborhoods East of the River. The exhibit photos date from 2010 through 2014.

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